When patients receive medical implants, they expect those devices to perform for a certain length of time. At times, though, companies that sell implants either do not perform the necessary tests to determine whether the devices can meet those expectations, or the companies simply do not know how to anticipate medical problems caused by the devices.
In 2012, a Michigan-based company named Stryker voluntarily recalled its ABG II and Rejuvenate modular-neck stems, which are designed to work with artificial hips. The company sold the stems globally.
According to the FDA, at least 45 patients in 2012 filed complaints that the devices did not perform adequately. Most of the patients complained that they were experiencing pain or tissue swelling. Those symptoms likely come from fretting or corrosion where the modular neck meets the implant.
Recently, new concerns were raised that the metal-on-metal implants could cause much more significant health problems for patients. When the metal parts rub against each other, they can release ions, which can then enter the bloodstream. Doctors say that they don’t know what the long-term effects of this condition are.
Stryker’s biotech division maintains that the devices have caused very few problems. 45 reports, after all, isn’t a significant number when one considers that the devices were sold all over the world.
In January, however, the company’s stock value took a hit as patients were advised to visit their doctors even if they have not experienced any pain, swelling, or other symptoms. This will obviously create a significant burden on the company, which has hired a third-party company to oversee testing and recalls.
How much will this cost Stryker? No one will know until patients get the testing required to determine whether they are at risks. Those tests will likely include X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, and MRIs.
It’s the soft tissue damage that doctors worry about most. Bone damage is painful, but surgeons can replace and repair damaged bones. When it comes to soft tissues, such as muscles that have died from exposure to metal ions, doctors don’t have as many options.
If you have a hip implant, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor should know how to test you for potential problems caused by your implant. It’s better to find the problem sooner rather than later, as with most health conditions. That gives doctors more options and helps patients avoid conditions that could seriously reduce their quality of life.
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